Lifestyle Medicine Your Liver

As it warms up its easier to get outside more and get moving.  Discovering ways to stay active all year long is important for many reasons.  Organ health is at the top of that list.  Our livers do more for us than any other organ.  Caring for it can be as easy as moving everyday. They love it when we are active for a few reasons:

  • Movement gets blood flowing.  Our liver stores and cleans our blood.  Physical movement assists this.
  • The liver is affected by stress. Exercise reduces this. Endorphins are released so we feel better & can focus.
  • Digestion improves.  When the liver is upset you won’t digest as well.  Move and you’ll enjoy your downtime more!
  • Late night eating interferes with the liver’s job of cleaning the blood.  Exercise improves our daytime appetite and regulates blood sugar.  Eating earlier means sleep is more restful.
  • Excess hormones move through the liver as do toxins.  We help this process along by moving our body.

 

Move to Improve Gut Health 

This  new research  shows that regular exercise changes our gut flora independent of what we eat. Specifically, it increases levels of short-chain fatty acid-producing bacteria and SCFAs. SCFAs are bacterial metabolites that serve as fuel for epithelial or cells of the colon.  They also modulate the inflammatory response, and improve insulin sensitivity.

Based on these effects, aerobic exercise may be a beneficial therapy for dysbiosis, insulin resistance, and diseases associated with chronic inflammation. Engage in aerobic exercise to optimize the composition of your gut microbiota and increase circulating levels of health-promoting SCFAs.

What about Anaerobic Exercise?

Resistance training is by far the most important kind of exercise to balance hormones, increase longevity and mobility.  When we build up and break-down muscle fibre there is a cascade that occurs in the body.  It will literally make you look and feel younger, stronger and more at ease with life.

Endurance exercise can raise cortisol and contribute to burn out in the long term.  Weight lifting, on the other hand, triggers the human growth hormone and helps us adapt better to stress.  It also makes us better fat burners while reducing our risk of insulin resistance.  Other hormonal imbalances also start to level out.  The good news is you need to train just a few times a week to get excellent health benefits.  This time commitment is much less than most aerobic exercise regimes.

A Few Excellent Botanicals for the Liver

Chinese Thorax (bupleurum falcatum)

This herb supports both phases of liver detoxification.  Its used for symptoms like depression, irritability, menstrual cramps, and headaches. More serious conditions like hepatitis C and cirrhosis also respond to schisandra partially because it also modulates the immune system.  Good for those with autoimmunity.

Burdock root (arctium lappa)

Burdock is anti-inflammatory and detoxifying especially for the skin. Its used to treat skin conditions such as eczema, acne, and psoriasis. As a bitter, burdock stimulates the release of bile and digestive enzymes. It is can soothe the digestive tract and also act as a laxative in a higher dose.

Dandelion root (taraxacum officinale)

Dandelion root is similar to burdock root. It is specifically indicated to assist in resolving gallstones.

Milk Thistle (silybum marianum)

Milk thistle’s active compound is silymarin.  This is protective and repairs liver tissue after exposure to environmental and food toxins. It is safe while breastfeeding, and also enhances the production of milk.

Schisandra (schisandra chinensis)

Schisandra has all 5 key flavours: sweet, salty, bitter, sour and pungent. It has been in used in China for thousands of years.  Its protective and supports both of the two phases of liver detoxification so is also used in treatment of Hep C.  Schisandra regulates blood glucose and cholesterol. It strengthens the immune system and calms the nervous system because of its adaptogenic properties.  It’s also a cough suppressant.

Turmeric extract  (curcuma longa)

Turmeric is anti-inflammatory and an anti-oxidant. It restores liver tissue, increases bile production, and has mild blood thinning properties. Ingesting it with a fat will enhance your body’s ability to absorb it. Turmeric’s active component is called curcumin. It is far more potent than the whole spice, and is widely used as a supplement for inflammatory conditions.  Tumeric supports the liver, mood and cardiovascular health.